CIN – Corporação Industrial do Norte is making a total investment of around €45 million to “modernise, expand, increase capacity and, above all, speed up the production process” at the Maia industrial complex, the chief executive of the paints and varnishes group revealed to ECO.
João Serrenho explains that this investment will allow “more and faster” to be done in what is the group’s main manufacturing area – it has another powder coating unit about five kilometres away, located in the same municipality in the Porto district – which is dedicated to civil construction, large volume industrial products and anti-corrosion.
“This area here started working in 1965, it’s taken many twists and turns, and we were having some efficiency problems. We’re redoing everything – computerising it, taking out some of the more obsolete machines, modifying all the circuits – and it will be ready by the end of the year,” reports the businessman.
Of the total investment amount, “if all goes well”, the owner of CIN expects to receive around €2 million from EU funds. “We don’t do anything because there is money to be made. We do what we have to do. Afterwards, if there is [public support], the financial director has to look into it, because he has a responsibility to the shareholders,” he stresses.
Founded in 1926, CIN became the sector leader in Portugal in 1992 and in the Iberian Peninsula in 1995. The 11th largest European manufacturer of paints and varnishes has ten factories in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Angola and Mozambique, as well as a direct presence in Poland, South Africa and Mexico, with commercial structures. It also has its main research and development (R&D) unit and the distribution centre for the domestic market in Maia, where it is based.
Last year, consolidated turnover increased to €365 million (vs. €313 million in 2020), with the construction business segment worth 61% of the total. This was followed by industrial (26%), corrosion protection (9%) and boat paints (5%), a market in which it has become active through Genoese Boero’s acquisition. Despite the instability caused by the war in Ukraine, CIN expects reaching €400 million in sales by the end of this year.
João Serrenho said that industry “continues to pull” for the results and remains stable, while construction is up 15% year-on-year. Despite the fact that there is a deviation in behaviour between the professional segment (which continues to rise) and the private one, with individual consumption falling after having been on the rise during the most acute phase of the pandemic. This is reflected in the drop in sales in CIN’s own shops compared to 2020 and 2021 and in chains such as Leroy Merlin.
With no direct exposure to Russia or Ukraine – “we have never tried [these geographies], they are poorly organised markets with structures that we do not understand” – it is in the Polish market, neighbouring the conflict, that the paint and varnish group feels “a clear discomfort” from consumers and commercial losses. Furthermore, sums up the businessman, who is one of ECO’s shareholders, “the worst problem of the war is that it creates brutal uncertainty and people begin to hesitate” when making investment decisions.
Currently, the group has around 1,800 employees in 15 countries, 650 of which in Portugal.